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South Pierce County Historical Society News...


     This little log cabin was the first home in Eatonville. It was built by town founder Thomas Cobb (T. C.) Van Eaton and Nate Williams, who arrived with T.C., in 1889. It is also the birthplace of three Van Eaton children - Frank (1894), first settler child born in Eatonville, Susie (1896) and Bessie (1898). There mother was Mary Jane Osborne. The family lived in back of the home while the front served as a trading post and stage stop. Later it was also the first post office. 
      Sponsored by the South Pierce County Historical Society and through the efforts of many, the cabin was saved and moved in 1997, to its present location at the corner of Mashell Ave. S. and Alder St. Since that time society members have made many restorations and continue to build toward the ultimate goal - the "Stage Stop Museum." (photo by Bob Walter  - digital enhancement by Adam Korst)


"Eatonville Gen. Hospital"

Van Eaton Cabin Dressed up Inside and Out this Summer

     The little T. C. Van Eaton log Cabin got a mini-makeover inside and out before the Fourth of July. The bright and cheerful new curtains were made by Deanna Valentine with help from Ruth  Heston. There are eight windows and two doors with windows so the women had their work cut out for them. The little cabin was the first home in Eatonville and served as a stage stop, store and post office at one time. The material was donated by Pat and Edwinna Van Eaton and bought locally at the Country Mouse. The new curtains replaced red and white gingham curtains made by the late Jackie Parnell in 2002. The gingham had faded from years of sun and were ready to go.

Lots of Flowers Decorate the Cabin...

    Flower boxes embellish the cabin for the first time. It was  built in 1889 by Town Founder T. C. Van Eaton and Nate Williams and was the birthplace of Frank Van Eaton, the first white child born in what is now Eatonville.

Historical Society Members Give  Old Cabin a Mini Facelift
Photos by Bob Walter...

     South Pierce County Historical Society members spruced up the Van Eaton Cabin and grounds on Saturday, June 25. Rick Bertoia, mugging for the camera, applies a coat of paint to the cabin’s windows. Also helping get the old cabin ready for summer were Rick's wife Renate, Museum Director Audrey Roley and President Bob Walter.

Historical Society trustee Deanna Valentine cleans the windows along the south wall of Eatonville’s first home.

Historical Society member and council member Jim Valentine prepares to do some detail work with his trusty weed-eater


Remnants of Old Eatonville...

                                                                                                           (photo by Bob Walter)

       by Bob Walter - Historical Society President - February 22, 2011: Local artist, graphics and website designer  Chris Bivins of www.Spilledinkstudio.com,  whose wife Diane Mettler is now Secretary-Treasurer of the South Pierce County Historical Society, helped Society President Bob Walter gathering some remnants of old Eatonville. These wooden water mains, now replaced by newer, more advanced water pipes beneath Eatonville’s streets, served the town for decades. Some of the last wooden mains to be replaced with new a new water line were in the vicinity of Antonie Avenue and Iron Street sometime in the early 1980s. Since the newer lines were often trenched or bored on the opposite side of the street from the old line, many of these wooden pipes, now decommissioned, still lie beneath the streets.
      The pipe facing the camera is 12" in diameter and has a coupling on the front end, while the one behind it is about six inches. They were wrapped with heavy, spiral, galvanized wire rings for strength, and coated with tar to help prevent corrosion. Nonetheless, corrosion did occur in places, and inevitably, sections of the pipe would burst from the pressure. 
      Since the Eatonville Lumber Company sawmill was an integral part of the town’s infrastructure, the old water pipes extended into the mill grounds. Tom Hamilton, owner of the property where a few of the old wooden pipes still lay, generously offered them to the Historical Society. It’s hoped that they can eventually be displayed and interpreted as a part of Eatonville’s early potable water supply engineering.

Cabin Sign Unveiled by Van Eatons and Cowlitz

     Pat Van Eaton and members of the Cowlitz Canoe Family unveiled the new interpretative sign in front of the Van Eaton Cabin on July Fourth. The cabin, built in 1889, is the first settler's home in Eatonville. Pat Van Eaton is the grandson of Town Founder T. C. Van Eaton. Next to Pat is Tiffany Van Eaton, great-great-granddaughter of the town founder.

      by Bob Walter

On Sunday, after the conclusion of the 4th of July parade, the South Pierce County Historical Society unveiled its new Van Eaton Cabin interpretive sign. The sign was paid for with 2009 Hotel/Motel Tax dollars through the Town of Eatonville. It tells the story of Eatonville’s first home. Now when visitors stop to view the historic building, they will go away with knowledge about how Eatonville got its start. Speaking at the unveiling were T. C. Van Eaton’s grandson Pat Van Eaton, accompanied by T. C.’s great, great granddaughter Tiffany Van Eaton.

Also present were five members of the Cowlitz Canoe Family, who sang an Indian blessing. The beautiful sign, with a sandblasted graphic of the cabin in the woods, enameled surface and vinyl lettering, was made by Valley Sign of Orting. The Historical Society is hopeful that with an infusion of community support, other planned, capital improvements to the Stage Stop Museum will become a reality. Thanks go to Rick Bertoia, who helped Society president Bob Walter in installing the sign two days before the unveiling.

After a Very Long Rest Antique Wagon Takes Another Trip...

     May 16, 2010: Keegan Ramey stands in front of the old spring wagon belonging to the Stage Stop Museum. The wagon was towed on Thursday, May 13, from a storage garage belonging to Rainier Connect, to the home of Historical Society members Bob and Dixie Walter, where it will be stored until a new storage and exhibit building can be built on the museum property at Mill Pond Park. The antique wagon was loaded with an old file cabinet and other "stuff" to weigh it down for the short trip.
     For a short video of the wagon being pulled through town please see
Moving the Old Wagon.

Arriving at a Temporary Home...

     The antique wagon reaches its temporary home after a trip of several blocks Thursday. The Stage Stop Museum thanks Police Chief Jim Lewis for providing an escort for the slow, mid-morning trip across town. (photos by Liz Seely, Heath Smith and Keegan Ramey)

Touring the Old Mill Property
Photos and Story by Bob Walter


      August 19, 2008: On Wednesday, August 13, Frank Jerue of Juneau, Alaska, walked the grounds of the old Eatonville Lumber Company Mill to look for vestiges of the Japanese community that lived near the mill before World War II.
     Jerue's family moved to Eatonville from the small town of Carlson near Mineral when he was a boy in 1942, after his
father got a job at the mill. They lived in town until 1949. The family lived in one of the homes formerly inhabited by the Japanese millworkers who were transported to the Puyallup Fairgrounds by federal order after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Here Jerue stands in front of ash screen of the old wigwam burner, an of the Eatonville landscape for many years until it blew down in late 2006.
     Carrying a hand-drawn map of the mill grounds as he remembers them, Jerue searched for signs of a small fish pond that used to be very near the house he lived in. He also remembers the dairy buildings, a garage for several vehicles, pig pens and a gym. Many old fruit trees dot the grounds where we walked.

Serenity - The Mill Pond...

     The old mill pond, once the scene of bustling activity when the lumber mill was in full operation, displays a serene reflection of trees and sky last Wednesday. Frank Jerue remembers his father telling him how the mill was shut down every year, so the pond could be emptied, in order to dredge out all the bark that accumulated at the bottom of the pond. Now the pond is home to abundant wildlife, including beaver, otter, and many species of waterfowl.

What the Heck is It?

     This mysterious-looking concrete building, about the size of a railroad boxcar, lies hidden from view until you walk right up to it. It sits below the existing ground level, a couple hundred feet south of Center Street East . It may have been part of the mill or the railroad. Anyone with information about this building or the old mill operation is encouraged to contact ENN - maatkra@aol.com

What Are You Doing Here?

      This healthy-looking deer looked at us as we walked some of the mill grounds as if we were  intruding  on  her territory - which is exactly what we were doing. Unlike so many of the local deer who are almost bald, this deer's sleek coat glows.

Whistle Sculpt Progress Report...

                                                                                                                                                                    (photo by Bob Walter)

     July 27, 2008 - by Bob Walter: The Charles Matheny sculpture, comprised of five, welded, rust-covered, steel towers left over from the old mill buildings, and commemorating the lumber mill years in Eatonville, is moving closer to completion. The sculpt, next to the Van Eaton Cabin at Mill Pond Park, has been connected to a compressor, and plumbed with a water line, so that when the whistle is operated, a burst of water mist will simulate the steam that activated it in the mill years.
      At the end of summer when the weather cools, red creeping fescue grass will be planted around the sculpt, providing a softscape which will wave in the breeze. South Pierce County Historical Society members were out Sunday afternoon July 27 conducting a work party to clean up and weed the area around the cabin and sculpt.

Some History of the Whistle Sculpt

       by Carol Matheny

     Sculptor Charles Matheny, artist and goldsmith in California for over 50 years, still holds his hometown of Eatonville close to his heart. He fondly remembers his life there when he was growing up, and he still visits as often as possible.
     It was on one of these visits over 12 years ago that he walked through the ruins of the old lumber mill that had been the heart of the town of his boyhood. The sight of so much raw material on the mill grounds began to inspire him to create a special tribute to the town’s history. Later, when he visited the home of the mill owner, he spotted the old mill whistle, actually lying in an abandoned fish pond. With a vision of what he wanted to create, he purchased and restored the whistle, while familiarizing himself with its history and operation.
     Over the next years, Charles traveled from California to Eatonville two or three times a year to fabricate the elements of his sculpt. Working at the base of the old burner on the edge of the mill pond, he decided to use the one foot by 20 foot sheets of steel lying among the mill ruins to build five towers of different heights to represent the massive timbers from which the mill was constructed (the mill site owner, Joe Hamilton, continued to assist Charles, providing material, space, and moral support throughout). The central tower is the height of the old mill boiler room; the angled beam from its top represents the angle of the roof where the whistle was mounted and where the same whistle now sits.
     The other four towers of the sculpt represent the timbers that supported the second story of the mill where finished lumber was stacked. Charles hopes to recreate the feeling of the different levels of activity when the mill was a busy and dynamic center of town.
     The original steam whistle, now incorporated into the sculpt, marked the rhythm of the town, from the call to work and school at 8 a.m., through lunch at noon, and then quitting time at 5 p.m. Charles hopes to recapture those memories by bringing the whistle to life again. Although it is no longer powered by the steam from the mill kilns where scrap was burned, a water system has been incorporated into the sculpt to recreate the steam effect when the whistle blows.
     He is very grateful that the sculpt has been placed in the historical park with its symbolic arm pointing toward Mount Rainier, visible in the distance. When the whistle now blows, the sound continues to echo from the mountain, illustrating once again the interdependence of the work of man and the majesty of nature.

Can You Help History?

                                                                                                                                                                                          (courtesy photo)

      July 10, 2008: Tori Miller is looking for any photos, or articles, relating to the now named Heritage barn  on the Alder Cutoff Road, at 45118 Alder Cutoff Road East near Eatonville.
     This barn was built in the late, 1880's-1900 ?, and gained notoriety as the Buffalo Ranch when Buffalo Don Murphy  staged the 1970 Rock Festival there. The barn was
also owned by the late Gary Russell who was a banker in Eatonville and killed in a car accident many years ago.
     The old barn has been accepted into the
Washington Heritage Register - Department of Archaeology and  Preservation, and as such, much information is being sought for dates, photos and local color relating to the grand old building and its history. Any assistance will very helpful in documenting a correct, and updated record, of the old barn's history.
      If you have photos
and/or other information please send to this eddress - jescrellim@yahoo.com
      For more information about the Heritage Register please see 
Washington Heritage Register

Helping History...

                                                                                                                                                                      (photo by Bob Walter)

         by Bob Walter
         February 28, 2008

       Rich Elliff and his brother, Roger, construct the frame Thursday for a shed which will house the compressor next to the Van Eaton Cabin. The compressor will provide air and steam for the old lumber mill whistle mounted atop the "Towers of Sorrow," a representational sculpture by Charles Matheny. The steel towers stand just east of the cabin at Smallwood Park. 

      The weathered wood to be used for the siding on the shed was donated by Carol Chappell, who lives near Glacier View Park. The siding came from an old garage that sits in her backyard. That garage, and the Chappell house, was originally built by the Smith family.

Brothers Take a Short Break...

                                                                                                                                                                (photo by Bob Walter)

     The labor necessary to build the compressor housing is all being donated by the Elliff brothers, Rich left and Roger. Once completed and plumbed, the whistle's melodious call will once again echo off the surrounding hillsides. Except for a couple of tests, the whistle's call, by which Eatonvillians timed their work day, has not been heard for several decades. Charles Matheny, who grew up in Eatonville, is dedicating the operational sculpture to the memory of the Japanese citizens who provided much of the labor for the Eatonville Lumber Company Mill.

Partially Finished Sculpt in 2004

                                                                     (photo by Dixie A. Walter)

     In May 2004 Charles Matheny visited Eatonville again to "tweak" his three-ton sculpture featuring the antique mill whistle, and other remnantshe gleaned from the long gone Eatonville Lumber Company. The "cloud" above the whistle is actually a puff of steam engineered by Matheny to replicate the original steam powered whistle.  


   Census Records...

     If you are looking for your family history this site may help you in your search  Ancestry.com - Census Records. Ancestry.com has access to 2.5 billion names in such historic records as the census, immigration, family trees, newspapers and more. Although there is a charge for using the site they offer free searches for fourteen days. Have fun!

Historical Society Presents "Trail Tales"
by Historian Andy Anderson

Ezra Meeker Circa 1910

       January 20, 2008

     Historian, and Director of the Meeker Mansion, Andy Anderson will be the featured speaker at  the  South Pierce County Historical Society meeting Sunday, January 27 at 3 p.m. in the Eatonville Library meeting room.
     Anderson's subject is Trail Tales, and is the story of the Ezra Meeker Historical Society taking its Meeker Wagon and a yoke of oxen over the Oregon Trail in the summer of 2006, a centennial journey replicating the Meeker trip of 1906, when the pioneer was 76 years old. In the spring of 1852 Meeker, his wife Eliza Jane and their newborn son, Marian, headed for Oregon the first time.
    Meeker is known for his unflagging efforts to memorialize the Oregon Trail. During his long life he met with American Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge, Queen Victoria, and rode in a parade with Orville Wright. Meeker platted and named Puyallup, becoming the city's first mayor.  Meeker wrote several books about the Westward Movement. His Puyallup mansion is now a museum. 
   The DVD presentation with narration will last approximately 45 minutes. Refreshments are included.

Van Eaton Cabin Gets 
a Makeover...

                                                                                                             (photo by Bob Walter)

     The T. C. Van Eaton Cabin in Eatonville sports a new look, thanks to materials donated by Perma Chink Systems, Inc. of Redmond, Washington, work by Northwest Log Home Care, LLC, of Bellevue, and a portion of the cost supplied by Pierce County Tourism Tax Funds through the Town of Eatonville. The cabin is located at Millpond Park.

Not Quite an Extreme Makeover, But Close

     by Bob Walter
     President - Historical Society
     December 16, 2007

      by Bob Walter; One of Eatonville’s first medical facilities still stands today, on the north end of Mashell Avenue across the street from Eatonville High School. Martha Parrish, who is 98 and still lives in town, was born in the “Eatonville Gen. Hospital” in February of the year 1913.
     Many an injured logger was operated on here by Eatonville’s first practicing physician, Dr. O.A. Martiny, and by Dr.
A.W. Bridge, who set up a medical insurance program for workers at the Eatonville Lumber Company. Dr. Bridge later established a drugstore, and a hospital upstairs, in what is now Kirk’s Pharmacy. (photo supplied by Roni Haynes Johnson)

     The T.C. Van Eaton Cabin, home of the South Pierce County Historical Society's Stage Stop Museum, has been given a makeover.
     During the past week, a team of workers from Northwest Log Home Care, LLC, of Bellevue, Washington supervised by owner Jeff Kyger, cleaned, stripped and washed the log walls of the 118-year-old building - first home in Eatonville, built by Thomas Cobb Van Eaton and his cousin and brother-in-law, Nate Williams.
     These tasks were done in preparation for the next step in protecting and beautifying the historic cabin - the application of an ample coat of stain, which was followed by a clearcoat, as well as a sealant applied over the log ends. 
     The chinking between the logs, which was applied by Historical Society members after the cabin was moved from its original location to its current one in 1996, had developed some cracks and separations, resulting in leakage during periods of wind and rain. So the last steps Kyger's team undertook on the outside walls was to trim and patch the durable, long-lasting chinking material, also applying it over areas not previously covered.
     The inside of the cabin also received some work. After cleaning and staining of the logs, the chinking was carefully applied along every seam, giving the interior a more finished look, and sealing out drafts.
Northwest Log Home Care can be visited online at: www.northwestloghomecare.com
     Part of the cost for the log restoration work was funded by the Historical Society's 2007 allotment of Pierce County's Tourism Tax dollars through the Town of Eatonville. The stain, clearcoat, chinking and other materials were generously donated by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. of Redmond, Washington. Perma-Chink's many wonderful product lines can be ordered online at www.permachink.com. The South Pierce County Historical Society thanks Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. for their generous support of this project.

Inside the Cabin - What the Pioneers Saw    

                                                                                                             (photo by Bob Walter)

     New application of chinking material along all the log seams on the inside walls of the Van Eaton Cabin has given the interior a sharp, new look. Through the decades the walls of the small log cabin had been covered by other materials, i.e. faux wood paneling. The logs, which are the original interior, is what the pioneers saw. In this cabin was born Frank Van Eaton, the first settler's child born in Eatonville. His parents were Thomas Cobb Van Eaton, town founder, and Mary Jane Osborne.

Joe Sander Featured Speaker at Historical Society Sunday
Learn About Alder and Moving the Town for Alder Dam...

     September 20, 2007

     At the Sunday, September 23 meeting of the South Pierce County Historical Society at 3 p.m., Joe Sander will give a slide presentation on the fascinating history of the community of Alder, including the relocation of the town to higher ground when Alder Dam was constructed on the Nisqually River , creating Alder Lake reservoir.
    Joe, former town electrician and life-long resident of Alder, has amassed a vast collection of photographs, which this great storyteller will combine with his personal recollections to relate the saga of his home town over several decades. 
    Everyone is invited to attend. The meetings are held at the Eatonville Branch Library at 3.p.m. on the fourth Sunday of the month. 

Historical Society Seminar Explores Family and Community Roots

                                                                                                 (photo by Bob Walter)

James Longmire family historian Marie Rice talked to history minded participants.

    by Bob Walter
    September 10, 2007

    An historical smorgasbord was served up to about 35 participants in a day-long series of seminars hosted by the South Pierce County Historical Society Saturday at Eatonville Middle School. Organized by the Society's museum director, Audrey Roley, the seminars included tips on exploring family genealogy, glimpses into the evolution of several local communities, and fascinating insights into how those communities were connected. 
    Historian and author Andy Anderson, using old photographs, led his audiences along the T. C. Van Eaton stage route from Lake Park (later to become Spanaway), past the homesteads of the Benston and Webster families, up the hill to the Benston school, Huntersville, the Cedar Grove stage stop (near Tanwax Lake), the socialist colony of Glennis, and finally to the forested environs of Clear Lake, Kapowsin Lake and Ohop Lake. The audience listened intently as he told of the rounding up and incarceration, by order of Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, of settlers in the Muck Creek area, believed to be aiding "hostile natives" during the Indian Wars of 1855-56.  
    Anderson's lecture served as a preview of his soon-to-be-released book, In the Shadow of the Mountain: A
History of Early Graham, Kapowsin, Benston, Electron and Vicinity, due out in October.  James Longmire family historian Marie Rice, presented a fascinating saga of the renowned pioneer's life, and the influence this "kind and clever man" had on the region, through stories related by many of his friends and descendents. 

Tracing Irish Ancestors...

                                                                                            (photo by Bob Walter)

Pat Wood explained how to trace Irish ancestors.

     Those in the audience who were of Irish or Italian descent received advice - from Pat Wood and Elaine Bowden, respectively - on tracing their ancestral journeys from their native countries, and assembling a genealogical record for the benefit of their own descendents. Madora Dawkins and Jaci Van Eaton Parnell provided, "The History of Eatonville, from the Beginning." Joe Sander gave a pictorial overview of the community of Alder, from its early days along the Nisqually River, to where it was later relocated when Alder Dam was built. Janis Isom discussed "Billy Packwood and the Woodruff Families." 
    Judy White gave tips on "Searching the Internet" for your family's history. Racquel and Dick Dyer talked about,
"Helping with your Genealogy." Retired UPI photographer Darryl Duggan shared stories of his fifty-year passion for capturing the history of the Puget Sound region through photographs. There were displays, books for sale and talk of doing it again next year. 

Town Founder's Birthday...

                                                         (photo courtesy of Van Eaton Family)

       Thomas Cobb (T.C.) Van Eaton and first wife Leonora Van Eaton, a fourth cousin who died in 1891. Their two children died as infants. Leonora and the children were dead when Van Eaton founded the town in 1889. Van Eaton was married three times. After arriving in what is now Eatonville married Jane Osborne. The couple were the parents of four children - Frank, McKinley, Bessie Roeder and Lucy Myrtle (Susie Wenk). After the death of Jane, Van Eaton, who spent a fortune trying to save her life, married Nellie Appleby who was from Kansas. They had three children - John, Robert and Nell.

Birthday at the Cabin with Master Wood Carver Darrel Duggan...

     Celebrate town founder T. C. Van Eaton's birthday Sunday, July 1 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Van Eaton  cabin 101 Alder Street East, the first home in Eatonville. Darrel Duggan, master wood carver, will be there to help you make your souvenir spoon.  Share old stories, and sip a cup of English tea.
       One hundred forty five years ago on June 27, 1862 T. C. Van Eaton was born in Polk County Minnesota. He was the first "white child" born  in Polk County. His father, Thomas, a farmer and a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, was killed in 1862 by Sioux Indians.
       Thirty two years later his son, Frank Van Eaton, born in 1894, became the first "white child" born in the town we call home.

Working Toward a Great Museum with Baked Goods and Colorful Christmas Greens...

                                                                                                        (photo by Bob Walter)

     December 10, 2006 - by Bob Walter; The South Pierce County Historical Society held its annual holiday basket and baked goods fundraiser at the Plaza Market Saturday morning December 9.  Sherry Schuchman, taking a break from her job in the meat department at  Plaza, considers her choice of the cakes, pies, cookies, rolls, bread and brownies offered for sale. Stage Stop Museum Director Audrey Roley (Mrs. Claus) looks on while Madora Dawkins describes the types of home-baked items to choose from. The baked goods sold quickly and the few baskets of greens left over were donated to Eatonville Manor.
     The historical society fundraising efforts go toward making a viable museum in town. With the recent focus on town revitalization it is well to remember a survey of Pierce and Thurston Counties done by the Washington State Business and Tourism Office, which shows the second activity tourists want, from a list of nineteen, when visiting an area overnight, is a museum. A museum visit in Pierce county made up forty-eight percent of those surveyed and forty-two percent of visitors surveyed in Thurston County.
     Both counties surveyed chose "sight-seeing/driving tour at the top of the list, closely followed by "visit museum." Included in the choices are:  zoos - nineteen percent; festival/events - twelve percent; visiting casinos - five percent; golfing - five percent and fishing - four percent.
     When you support the historical society you are supporting town revitalization and giving visitors to Eatonville the museum many would like to enjoy. 


Historical Society Members Prepare Christmas Greens...

                                                                                                           (photo by Bob Walter)

     December 7, 2006: Left to right: Madora Dawkins, Audrey Roley, Joe Sander, Carol Cook, Rosa Hibbard and her daughter Charla Toulouse worked for hours Wednesday in Joe Sander's shop at Alder making Christmas wreaths and baskets. Their beautiful work will be for sale, along with delicious baked goods, Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. in front of Plaza Market. Stop by and make a purchase to help Eatonville's Musuem. Also working but not pictured was Historical Society President Bob Walter.


Governor Directs Agencies to Fly Flag at Half Staff
In Honor of 65th Anniversary - Pearl Harbor Attack...

     The American Legion says if you can't lower your flag, for example flags held by wall/tree posts, it is an "acceptable alternative" to attach a black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag. This ribbon should be the same width as a flag stripe and the same length as the flag. Only presidents and state governors can decide when the flag is lowered at half-staff and how long it should remain in that position. Half-mast is the term used for lowering the flag on ships and boats.     

Remembering Pearl Harbor...

     Brent Heinemann
     Governor's Office
     December 3, 2006

     This is a reminder about National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on Thursday, December 7.  Governor Chris Gregoire has directed that flags at all state agency facilities be lowered to half-staff in honor of American casualties on December 7, 1941. The governor encourages private citizens, businesses and local governments to join in this 65th anniversary remembrance. 
Flags should be back to full staff that evening or first thing Friday morning, December 8.
    We are sending this message now so that all agencies have plenty of time to give advance alert to all remote facilities, schools, colleges and universities. Here is a link to last year's Presidential
proclamation with more information whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051128-2.html

Naval Dispatch Warning, "Air
 Raid...Not Drill"

     December 3, 2005 - by Dixie A. Walter: Shortly before 8 a.m., Sunday,  December 7, 1941,  Japanese aircraft bombed paradise and plunged the United States into war. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii with other military and naval installations on the other side of the island resulted in the deaths of 4,575 American servicemen. 
     The attack was ordered by Hideki Tojo, the virtual dictator of Japan during World War II. He  was  also Prime Minister, Army Chief of Staff and Minister of War. Tojo resigned the Minister of War position in 1944 under pressure and attempted suicide but failed. Tojo was tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, found guilty of war crimes and hanged. 
      One of my best "military brat" girlfriends during the mid-1950s was born at Pearl Harbor. She was a toddler when the strikes began. Her dad was an Army Air Corps officer and was not home  at the time. He was at Pearl. Her mom described to me what happened in her neighborhood of wives and children. 
      Many were young mothers and, like their military husbands and friends, were completely taken unaware by the attack. They had no idea what was happening. My friend's mother said she put her daughter under a table and went outside to try and figure out what was going on. 
      The mother I talked with explained that all along the street there were women, most in dresses, straining to see and hear what was taking place. The grass was green, the trees were the same, it was a tropical paradise.  Most of the mothers left their children in the homes, but even though wary, the women weren't terrified, just puzzled. They didn't have any clue that the thunderous noises and billowing smoke was an attack on the base which would change the world.
      Some thought perhaps one of the huge battleships in the harbor may have blown up. It wasn't until much later in the morning the women realized they were innocent  eyewitnesses to the terrible few hours of American history which led to the terrible few years of a terrible, but just war.
       Irwin Fry from Eatonville was killed at Pearl Harbor. Other Eatonville "boys" at Pearl during the attack were: Ensign Bruce Brackett, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Brackett and a member of the Air Corps; Ensign Barney Malcom, son of Mr. and Mrs. Olaf Malcom (brother of Keith Malcom and the man whom Barney's Corner is named for); and Donald Hull, son of Mrs. E. W. Hull. These young men survived the assault at Pearl. However, only Barney Malcom survived the war. Bruce Brackett was killed in action at Guadalcanal January 15, 1943 and on March 3, 1945, Donald Hull died in action at Iwo Jima.
      Two boys, Bill Harper and Mel Barnhart, who had quit Eatonville High School to join the Navy, were shot and seriously wounded at Pearl. 
      Among the other innocent victims of Tojo were Japanese-Americans who suffered appallinghardships when they were moved from their homes and put in American "concentration camps." Eventually the events of the attack on Pearl Harbor led to the nuclear age when America dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thus ending that theater of World War II.

From the Desk of T. C. Van Eaton - Town Founder...

     October 1, 2006

      This letterhead was the stationary of Thomas Cobb Van Eaton who settled in what is now Eatonville in 1889 along with Nate Williams. T. C. Van Eaton intended to build a town and worked hard to encourage pioneers to put down roots in his budding new town. Notice his letterhead is dated 190--- and states he is a dealer in "All Manner of Merchandise and Real Estate." 
     Van Eaton gave away acres and acres of his homestead to encourage a school, newspaper, church along with other businesses and groups which make a town. The original of this letterhead is on eight and a half by eleven paper and belongs to Elsie Boettcher Van Eaton, T. C. Van Eaton's daughter-in-law. 
      On the left is a pen and ink drawing of the "Residence of T. C. Van Eaton - in the center it says "Pierce Co. Wash. - Eatonville - On Line of TACOMA-EASTERN Rway" - on the right is a pen and ink drawing of the mountain which was still called "Mt. Tacoma." The largest part of the letterhead is a drawing of the town as it was in the 1900s and in the lower right hand corner is a lumber mill with the caption "Logging and Mills."

What is Mashell Red?

    Mashell Red is a deep, rusty red color similar to this which is unique to Eatonville. It was created by Eatonville's first mayor Cyrus C. Snow. According to the History of Tacoma Eastern Area by Jeannette (Larin) Hlavin and Pearl Engle and published in 1954, "He [Snow] came here in 1900 investigating a rumor that there was copper near Eatonville. He became superintendent of the Success Paint Company which used copper ore as a base for its paint pigments.
      "...The land was toward La Grande on the cut-off road, the shafts built to sample the rock below can still be seen on the banks of the river. The rock was of such a nature as to be easily crushed; it was refined and screened and mixed with linseed oil. It's dark red color was once seen on many Eatonville buildings...So many Eatonville homes and other buildings were painted with it that the color was jokingly referred to as 'Mashell Red.'" The Stage Stop Museum/Van Eaton log cabin is painted a variation of
Mashell Red.

      View Vintage Photos of Eatonville... 

     March 18, 2005

     Thanks to master photographer Tony Sirgedas who found old photos of Eatonville on the University of Washington Libraries Web site. The site gives a brief history of company towns and has options for viewing photographs. To enjoy this site please see Eatonville, Washington, Photograph Collection - Special Collections, UW Libraries 

Firefighters have a Long History of Service...

                                                                                                               (photo by Dixie A. Walter)

     Eatonville's men and women in blue pose proudly during the recent fire department open  house  to familiarize citizens with the department and answer  questions concerning the EMS (Emergency Medical Service) Levy, on the September 19 primary election ballot.

A Brief History of the Fire Department

     by Dixie A. Walter
     September 15, 2006

     The Special Election, Proposition Number 1, "Would authorize the Town of Eatonville to impose an additional regular property tax levy of fifty cents or less per thousand dollars of assessed valuation for each of ten consecutive years," according to the statement in the Pierce County Official Local Voter's Pamphlet. The funds provide for emergency medical care or emergency medical services.
      What did Eatonville's fire department take care of, or assist with, during the month of August? The town report to the town council documents this lists; Six fires; five auto accidents; twenty-two aid; one service call. Mutual aid responses with District 15 - 16; mutual aid responses with District 23 - 2.
Please Vote Yes!
      Starting a fire department in Eatonville was hampered by false starts and years of neglect by many town officials including mayors and council members. According to the June 9, 1911 council minutes "a hydrant is to be placed on Mashell Avenue in close proximity to the Eatonville Lumber Company's buildings for their fire protection." C. C. Biggs was the first fire chief but he resigned in March 1912 and C. H. Williams was elected chief by the fire fighters.
       The History of Tacoma Eastern Area by Jeannette Hlavin and Pearl Engle reports that after 1913 "there is little or no mention of the fire department or fire fighting equipment for several years." However,  "in 1918 the Dispatch reported that the fire bell tower was in unsafe condition. This warning was ignored until  "December 3, 1920, when the bell tower crashed to earth at 1 p.m. when a gale wind was blowing, demolishing the front end of Hose House No. 1."
        Before the fire department organization was finally settled all available men ran to help fight fires when the bell rang. One anecdote tells of Nels Christensen and Fred Kittleman being the first to bring out the hose cart when the alarm sounded that the Long's home was burning. The history book relates this story, "They were racing up the street when Rollo Potter joined them but the speed of Nels and Fred was too much for Rollo, who was run down by the hose cart. He had no injury except to his dignity." Sadly, the Long home burned down.
       According to current Fire Chief Bob Holt Jr., "
We still have the hose cart and it is stored down at the sewer lagoon."
       When Dr. A. W. Bridge became mayor in 1918 he stated, "One thing that I am going to have a hobby on will be fire protection. And a volunteer fire department was organized in 1922. A new fire hall was built around 1928. 

Enter Eugene Larin, a Brave and Wise Newspaperman... 

        In 1927 Eugene Larin became owner of the Dispatch. The Hlavin-Engle book tells of his campaign to modernize Eatonville's "backward" fire department. "He [Larin] started a one-man campaign for an organized fire department for Eatonville. Coming from Enumclaw, also a small town, which had fire trucks, an organized fired department and a paid fire chief for years, the contrast with Eatonville's hose cart and loose fire fighting system was painful. 
        "He repeatedly brought the matter up at the Commercial and Service Clubs, and repeatedly printed material in his paper urging that an organized fire department be formed with no result other than earning himself a rebuke from the town council. As it is recorded in the minutes of July 23, 1928, 'Mayor Galbraith was instructed to interview editor Larin of the Dispatch relative to the unfavorable publicity he gave the fire protection of the town in last week's paper.'
        "Business men, mayor, council and citizens in general were uninterested. The attitude was, 'We don't need a fire department, everybody turns out to help fight fires." However, reality hit Eatonville during the Sabourin fire of 1933 when, "So many things happened that were ridiculous and so obvious, that it seemed the opportune moment had arrived to get an organized fire department for the town." 
         In a front page editorial Larin said, "The Dispatch interviewed a number of citizens this week on the subject of organizing a fire department and found general sentiment favoring it. There has been no organized fire department for years. 
        "Several who were first to respond to the summons of the fire bell when George Steele rang it, said there was considerable delay in getting good streams of water. Their lack of knowledge of how to open the hydrants, two lengths of hose bursting when pressure came on, inability to open the first hydrant the tried to use, ignorance of where to find a hydrant wrench, all contributed to loss of valuable time...Ever since I have been in Eatonville, I have advocated the establishment of a volunteer fire department in Eatonville. As secretary of the Commercial Club I have brought up the matter repeatedly. The club solicited the opinions of the mayor and town council concerning it, but nothing came of it."  
         "The historical writers explained, "After the fiasco of the Sabourin fire the Service Club took action on a fire department at the Eatonville Hotel September 14. On a motion by E. Larin, seconded by Dan Christensen, the president appointed a committee to meet and draw up laws for organization. Jud Morrison and Dan Christensen were appointed a committee to organize a fire department. They appeared before the council and asked the opinions of the mayor and council on the subject. They were assured that the mayor and council approved and supported the proposal. And, after too many false starts and potentially deadly mistakes, Eatonville's Fire Department was finally born.

New Recruits Restored Mae West...

                                                                                                            (photo by Dixie A. Walter)

     Eatonville's newest firefighters, Mark Quire on the left and Justin Claibourn, spent days restoring the old Mae West fire truck and finished the job just before the open house. The little rig looks spectacular and is a huge hit around town where it used to be regularly seen in parades and at other events.
     Holt explained, "Justin is a mechanic so he is naturally a wiz at that sort of thing. The last time I can remember it running was the last time the Lady Lions organized the Fourth of July parade. It was stored in a shed down by the sewer lagoon. We are going to keep it at the station for now while we have an empty bay
." About the new recruits Holt said, " I am very proud of them and we are lucky to have gentlemen like them in the department. They decided on their own to get her running, and they are committed to not only taking the department to new heights in the future, but preserving our past as well. Makes my job easy."
     According to the  Hlavin - Engle history book, published in 1954, the little truck was made from an old Dodge coupe. "Dan Christensen was elected fire chief [in 1933] and continued to serve until he retired April 8, 1946. He was made an honorary fireman. Joseph C. Larin was elected treasurer.
     "For $27 the boys bought a second hand Dodge coupe and built it into a fire truck, doing the work themselves. A group of them worked every night on this project, and Mayor Galbraith, observing them with amusement and sympathy, became interested in the fire department. The fire truck was completed and ready for use in 1935, and was affectionately christened Mae West. She is remembered fondly by long time residents who are enjoying seeing the terrific little engine that could traveling around town lately.


Mae West's Siren Works Again...

                                                                                                           (photo by Dixie A. Walter)

     An unidentified girl winds up the Mae West siren as a friend covers her ears. The siren doesn't seem to have any effect on Fire Chief Bob Holt Jr. who goes about his business as if nothing were happening. He must be used to plenty of noises by now. 

The Littlest Firefighter?

                                                                                                          (photo by Dixie A. Walter)

     Proud Papa Mark Quire cuddles his tiny son Austin who solemnly absorbed all the activity.

Historical Society Picnic...

                                                                                                  (photo by Bob Walter)

     August 28, 2006: Member of the South Pierce County Historical Society finish their delicious dessert during the society's annual picnic held at the home of Madora Dawkins Sunday, August 27. Left to right: Chester Tomczak, Carol Cook, Pat Hamilton, Madora Dawkins and Evelyn Guske.

Historical Waypoint Signs Resurrected...
Photos by Bob Walter

    Visitors to our town will again be drawn over by this colorful sign to learn a little of its early history. The sign was a historical society project many years ago, had become a bit ragged around the edges, and was restored by sign maker Ralph Bell.

History Shines Again...

     by Bob Walter
     July 29, 2006

    About 20 years ago, the South Pierce County Historical Society Constructed three historical waypoint signs, at Eatonville next to Keybank, at Bethany Lutheran Church, 26418 Mountain Highway East, and at the Electron Powerhouse, to provide travelers with glimpses into the history surrounding those waypoints. Historical Society charter member and Eatonville area resident Bill Bartels remembers working on the signs, and their significance. "The old Electron Post Office sat alongside the road where the turnoff [from the Orting-Kapowsin Highway] to the sign near Electron is. And there was a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Camp in there, too," said Bartels. 
    Another charter member, and current trustee, of the Society, Rosa Hibbard, also remembers. "Our president at that time, Andy Anderson, had a big rhododendron garden, and we dug up a bunch of them and arranged a sale to pay for building and erecting the signs." 
Over the 20 years since, they have weathered the sun, wind, rain and snow. The sign at Bethany Lutheran Church was damaged when a motorist ran into it. It has since been repaired and re-positioned in a more protected area near the church.
    The Eatonville waypoint sign, there at the corner of Mashell Avenue and Center Street, has also been given
new life. Ralph Bell, a sign maker at Mount Rainier National Park, takes his history seriously.  Ralph contacted the town and volunteered his time and materials to completely renovate the sign. Says Bell, "Working for the park service, you have to care about history and preservation. You develop that ethic, if you didn’t already have it. I’m a sign maker by trade, I do it for the National Park Service. I notice if a sign is in disrepair, is too small or is difficult to read. I'd been looking at that one for years. It was beautifully designed, and had a good message. I stopped and read it one day." 
    What followed was a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and the Town of Eatonville. Bell worked on it about two months, off and on, at one of the shops up at the park. "Ten minutes here; 15 minutes there." He removed all the excess paint, re-sanded every part of it, and removed the old lacquer.   "It was flaking. The posts were bowed and cracking, so I built a new frame, built a mortise and tendon joint and built a roof structure using cedar shakes, then repainted it. "The plate (carrying the text) below the photo was in really bad shape, so I duplicated the original using an engravable plastic. I told the town officials, 'This is just a filler, and I would like to see a porcelain enamel sign as it was originally done.'"

A Closer Look - at History...

The plate on the Eatonville history interpretive sign, shown above, is an engraved duplication of the original, white, porcelain enamel plate. The fine restoration work is that of Ralph Bell, who will be leaving Eatonville in October to a take a new position at the unique Manzanar National Historic Park in California. (watch for more on this soon)

Electron Sign Interprets Early
 Power Source...

      Tucked away at the end of a long, remote road, the sign at Electron gets few visitors. Those who do will enjoy the history lesson it provides, as they gaze at the spectacular scene below. The Electron Hydroelectric Power Plant was built in 1903-04. For years it powered the street lights and street cars in Tacoma and Seattle, as well as the Interurban, an electric railway connecting the two cities. 
      It sits in a rugged canyon, and is powered by the glacial waters of the Puyallup River, channeled down a ten-mile-long, wooden flume, that drops eighty hundred and seventy two vertical feet before hitting the waterwheels. Dubbed a "high head" system for this reason, it was one of the first of its kind in the U.S. - hydropower without the dam or reservoir. This waypoint sign can be reached by traveling east from Highway 161 on the Orting-Kapowsin Highway for several miles. Where the highway veers left (north), there are two roads to the right in succession. Take the second one and drive to the end of the road, about two or three miles.

 One-Hundred-Two-Year-Old Power Plant and Flume at Electron...

Just a short walk from the Electron waypoint sign, this breathtaking view opens up, of the powerhouse and flume far below. While many flumes were constructed to carry logs to the mill, this one carried water to the plant's waterwheels, producing electrical power. It has a maintenance track atop the flume, dubbed "The Crookedest Railroad."

Saga of Earliest Settlers Remembered 
at Muck Creek

      The sign at Bethany Lutheran Church and Cemetery, 26418 Mountain Highway East, titled "Muck Creek Settlers," describes the role of John McCloud, John McPhail and Charles Wren, who came to America as employees of the Hudson's Bay Company, and after leaving their employment, each became a naturalized citizen and filed a donation land claim along the fertile, Muck Creek in the mid-1850's - 25 years earlier than the first Eatonville area settlers. 
      Americans Henry Smith and Lyon A. Smith also settled in the area. During the Indian Wars of the mid-1850's, they were imprisoned by the territorial militia "on suspicion of giving aid and comfort to the enemy," but no proof of this charge could be found, and local judges refused to try them. Territorial Governer Isaac Stevens declared marital law, but there was such a "civil rights uproar," Stevens was reprimanded by federal and territorial authorities, and the men were freed.  This sign has a photo of one of those settlers - the Englishman, John McCloud. 
      Pull into the parking lot in front of the church and you'll see the sign next to the shrubbery.


Two Mayors had a Chance to Visit on Founder's Day...

                                                                                     (photo by Arlen Paranto)

     June 26, 2006: Present Mayor Tommy Smallwood - a Historical Society Trustee - and former Mayor Harold Parnell had a long visit during the heat of Saturday afternoon at The Historical Society's Founder's Day Celebration at the Van Eaton Cabin. Although dozens of people visited the museum, most for the first time, the heat, combined with three local weddings, a fifty-year class reunion at Northwest Trek and the Northwest Trek Slug Fest, helped keep the crowd small for auctions.
     The Society held its silent auction, but decided to postpone the live auction for lack of bidding numbers. Even though the day was extremely hot, the people who visited had fun and were supportive of the museum. Several were delighted with winning top bid on items in the silent auction, including Rich Williams, descendent of pioneer, adventurer and builder, Nate Williams, who with T.C. Van Eaton, built the cabin 117 years ago.
     Historical Society President Bob Walter said, "The people of the business and arts communities, and individuals as well - they really stepped up, and donated some wonderful items and valuable services to the cause.  A few very unique things! Even though we're disappointed the auction had to be postponed, we're encouraged by that willingness to help the Society get the Stage Stop Museum going. And it was great to see visitors come into the Van Eaton Cabin to get a feel for the old days.  
     "Also, I can't thank John and Tammi Bratholm enough for the energy they put into this project. Those are two,  truly selfless and community-minded people; they epitomize Eatonville's future. Our board will be meeting soon to debrief, and decide how and when we'll auction off those donations and create a museum fund." Walter also thanked Mike and Lori Smith and Eatonville Youth Sports Association  (EYSA) for the free use of their food booth/trailer, as well as sponsoring organizations, the Rimrock Free Trappers Mountain Man Bill Bailey, Nisqually Stream Stewards Debbie Anderson and Diana Willie, who brought a display describing the Large Wood, salmon habitat restoration project planned for the Mashell River, Ed Lincoln and family, who drove the rare, 1937 Kenworth Mount Rainier Tour Bus owned by Art Redford, to Eatonville to exhibit, and Eatonville United Methodist Church, for loaning the tables and chairs.
      Historical society members Evelyn Guske, Rosa Hibbard, Madora Dawkins, Anne Norman, Chester Tomczak and Museum Director Audrey Roley, all shared stories with the kids and their parents coming through the cabin.  

Descendant of First Settler Child
 Born in Eatonville...


                                                                                                  (photo by Arlen Paranto)

     Jackie Van Eaton Parnell hugs her husband, Harold, during Founder's Day. Jackie's father, Frank Van Eaton, was the first pioneer child born in Eatonville. His mother was Mary Jane Osborne Van Eaton and his father was town founder Thomas Cobb Van Eaton. Jackie's dad was born in the cabin you see in behind her. Jackie and Harold Parnell will have been married sixty-four years on August 28, 2006.

Getting Museum Grounds Ready for Founder's Day

                                                                                                                                (photo by Bob Walter)

     Planning Commissioner and parks committee member Bob Schaub gets down and dirty for the second week in a row, helping beautify Mill Pond Park. In the background is Bill Atkins the town's temporary parks person.

     More Beautification...

  by Bob Walter
     June 19, 2006

     The Van Eaton Cabin and the west end of Mill Pond Park got a face-lift Saturday morning June 17, just in time for next week's park dedication, and the Historical Society's Founder's Day Auction to benefit the Stage Stop Museum.
    As reported on ENN, the previous week, a crew consisting of the town parks maintenance staff and volunteers planted over 500 flowers, shrubs and trees, many of them donated through the efforts of planning commissioner Bob Schaub.
     Initiated by Schaub, Saturday's project also relied on donated plants, as well as many purchased wholesale from Eatonville Nursery and Greenhouse. Schaub's wife, Gail, donated several plants from her garden, and Arrow Lumber also donated some bedding plants. This writer acquired thirty donated ferns, trees, shrubs and ground covering plants from the nursery on the campus of Bellarmine Prep School in Tacoma. 
    With assistance again from the parks staff, the volunteers included South Pierce County Historical Society members Anne Norman, Audrey Roley and myself. Other volunteers included Schaub and his granddaughter Lauren Schaub. Yvonne Spicer, who lives across the street, came over to pitch in, bringing along her friend Mike Chase. Mike Camacho, who lives in Lakewood and was visiting Eatonville, worked the entire morning shift helping out.
   Mike Lively of the parks staff hauled in soil and bark mulch, as other parks employees Bill Atkins and Tera Pella rounded out on the planting crew. Tera's son Caleb was on hand to assist as well.

Park Neighbors Pitch in...

                                                                      (photo by Bob Walter)

      Yvonne Spicer, Mike Chase and Mike Camacho - all volunteers who got involved with the park planting project on the spur-of-the-moment, pitch in to add some greenery to the front of the Van Eaton Cabin. In the background is Tera Pella town parks employee and animal  control officer.


Eatonville's First School 
Still in Use for Education...

                                                                                                                     (photo by Bob Walter)

     This charming little log school nestled among tall firs is the first school in Eatonville. It was built one-hundred-fourteen years ago in 1892. Below is a brief history of the school, which has been home for the Eatonville Cooperative Nursery School since 1975. The school is holding an open house next week. Your invitation is 

Little School Saved...

       by Dixie A. Walter
       April 13, 2006

       The following historical excerpt is from the History of Tacoma Eastern Area by Jeannette Hlavin and Pearl Engle written in 1954. "The first school was the log house built from logs and nails and on ground donated by T. C. Van Eaton. It stood across the Mashell Avenue from the present grade school building. Some of the Scandinavian settlers were “Broad axe men,” experts at hewing logs or lumber, and they hewed the material for the school house.
The first teacher was Miss Alice Dodge. School was conducted only three months a year. Two other teachers taught in the log school house, Miss Hortense Oliver and Miss. P. Messinger.  
      "Some towns neglect their historic buildings but this cannot be said of Eatonville. The old log school house has been tenderly cared for and is often referred to sentimentally in writings and speeches of local people.

     "Clyde Williams says that when it was to be removed from its original location, he said to T. C. Van Eaton, who with a team of horses, was his partner on the job: “Let’s save it” and Van Eaton replied: “All right, we have plenty of room.” Accordingly, they hitched it to the horses with chains and pulled it to the spot where it now stands.
    "Before 1912 church services were held in it.
B. W. Lyon told the Community Day audience in 1923 that when he was school superintendent here, an orphan boy was permitted to live in the old school house. He was placed in charge of the agricultural class’s poultry, and was allowed to keep what money he made from it. In this way he was enabled to complete the high school course here. His name was John Kruger and in 1923 he was head of the Agriculture Department of the Sumas public schools.
     "The Fortnightly Club used the building as a club house for some years, and it is now used for the same purpose by the Girl Scouts.
For decades the old school house stood in the area behind the present day tennis court at the high school. Eventually, through the efforts of the Dogwood Garden Club it was moved to it's present site. The log building has been used as the Eatonville Cooperative Nursery School for thirty-one years.      

Strong Winds Peel Skin Off

(photo by Bob Walter) 

     March 29, 2006 - by Bob Walter:  The old Eatonville Lumber Company mill burner weathered some strong winds in the past couple of weeks, resulting in more of the heavy iron plating peeling off. The burner, one of a very few remaining in our state, stands as a symbol of the heyday of logging in the Northwest. According to Mayor Tommy Smallwood this old relic is only one of two left in Washington State, and one of "six or eight" in the entire country.

One's for Climbing; One's Not

                                                                               (photo by Bob Walter)

     March 29, 2006 - by Bob Walter: The "Space Net," a play structure comprised of webs of heavy-duty climbing rope, sits in the shadow of the old mill burner at Mill Pond Park.

Artifacts Provide Glimpse into the Past...

                                                                                                        (photo by Bob Walter)

     Eatonville area history buff Dick Taylor brought these three items to a recent South Pierce County Historical Society meeting. The brass spittoon was from the Depot Hotel saloon. The hotel stood near the corner of Center Street and Madison Street along the Tacoma Eastern Rail Road line. The porcelain enamel lunchbox belonged to one of the workers helping to build the Mountain Highway. Taylor estimated that to have been in around 1932. The salmon spearhead, found at Indian Henry's village on Mashell Prairie, may have been forged by Claude Laton, a blacksmith who had a shop off Center Street between Mashell Avenue and Rainier Avenue.

New Historical Society Web   Site Now Online...

                                                                                                   (photo by Bob Walter)

Van Eaton Cabin, first home in Eatonville, built in 1889. Future home of the Stage Stop Museum.

How to View the New Web Site...

     December 14, 2005: The South Pierce County Historical Society has a new Web site. The site is free. You will see a button saying "Sign Out," just ignore it. To view the actual size of the thumbnail photos in the slide show click the small button at the far right under the slideshow. This will take you to full-size photos. If you move your mouse on to the white space you will find captions for the pictures. You may also click on the play button and get another slide show.
     More information and photographs will be added soon. Ideas for the new site are welcome. You may send suggestions to Dixie Walter -
maatkra@aol.com  To view the site please see South Pierce County Historical Society

Van Eaton Baby's Tombstone 
  Desecrated Christmas Week...

      December 26, 2005: This marker belonging to little Annie Van Eaton was damaged beyond repair when it was apparently pulled out of the ground and bashed onto the rocks propped against it. The old monument was broken into pieces at the top, and cracked lengthwise. Much of the material from the smaller pieces had crumbled into sand from the impact, rendering it nearly, if not completely, irreparable. The Eatonville Police Department took photographs and are investigating the destruction.
    To read the rest of the story and view more photographs please see Cemetery Violations 



More Improvements to Future Museum...

                                                                                                                   (photo by Bob Walter)

     The ramps to the T. C. Van Eaton Cabin, home of the future Stage Stop Museum, are nearly complete. Constructed by Chuck McKasson, the ramps were funded through a federal block grant, and will make the approach to the cabin safer and more accessible to all.

Historical Society News...

                                                                                                                  (photo by Bob Walter) 

      December 4, 2005: Dick Taylor brought the above items to the South Pierce County Historical Society's Annual Meeting Sunday, December 4. The doll was given to his mother, Margaret (King) Taylor, by her sister Vivian Van Eaton. Margaret was thirteen when she received the doll. That would have been about a hundred years ago, since Margaret would be about one-hundred-thirteen years old if she was still alive today.
    The baskets were made by people from Indian Henry's village at Mashell Prairie. Dick said they weren't Nisquallies, but were from somewhere near Marysville. The beautiful baskets are made from strips of cedar bark and are circa 1890s. The bell came from the Shaker Church on the Prairie. Dick said it was rung when someone died and that it could be heard clear to the Ohop Grange area.

Society's New Officers...

     Historical society members voted for officers during their annual meeting. The officers are: Bob Walter, president; Bobbi Allison, vice-president; Carol Cook, secretary; Madora Dawkins, treasurer; Mayor Elect Tom Smallwood, trustee. Other trustees who weren't up for election are Joe Sander and Rosa Hibbard. Audrey Roley is the Stage Stop Museum director.
     The society is working toward the museum opening date of May 1. Once the museum is opened it will be "manned" by members. Plans call for the museum, which will be located in the Van Eaton Cabin, to reflect not only its historical significance as Eatonville's first home, but also as the first trading post.

New Ramp for Van Eaton Cabin...

                                                                        (photo by Bob Walter)

     Presently the McKasson Brothers builders are finishing the job of constructing the disabled persons ramp and adding a deck to the cabin. Another project in the works is installation of the Matheny Sculpt which was years in the making by artist Charles Matheny. The sculpt is created from remnants of the long-gone Eatonville Lumber Company mill, and features the mill whistle which can be set to blow at various times during the day. It will be erected near the cabin in what will be the historical complex of the Millpond Park.
     And if you've ever wondered what happens to old political signs, you can see in Eatonville some are used for mud relief.

Raising Funds for the Museum...

                                                                                                         (photo by Bob Walter)

     Museum Director Audrey Roley channels Mrs. Claus and chats with a customer in front of Plaza Market during the historical society's annual Christmas swag and basket sale. The sale on December 3 brought over $100 dollars to the society. The swags and baskets were made December 2 by society members. 

Cub Scouts have Fun with 
Local History...

(photo by Bob Walter)

Members of Cub Scout Pack 604 cut up for the camera near Van Eaton Cabin, the first home in Eatonville.

      by Dixie A. Walter
      November 20, 2005

     Cub Scouts from Pack 604, along with family members, visited the Van Eaton Cabin at Mill Pond Park in Eatonville Saturday morning to learn about the town's early days. The visit was arranged by pack leader Lisa Porter and South Pierce County Historical Society president Bob Walter. While most of the town was shrouded in fog, the sunlight shown through at the cabin for the scouts' visit.
     The kids heard about the politics of yesteryear, when the *Van Eaton clan was invited by neighbors a couple miles to the east at what is now known as Mensik's Hill, for a social gathering and, according to the town history, were given "doctored" coffee in order to sicken them in an attempt to discourage the new little town and found another community in their area. The target of the dirty trick was T. C. Van Eaton who declined the coffee and did not become sick.
    Going inside, the group compared daily life of the pioneers with life today, speculated about the fire that charred some of the cabin's logs, and heard about its use as a trading post, a stage stop for people on their way to Mount Rainier, its incorporation into the Snow Hotel, and its eventual move to its present location when the hotel was torn down. 
    They also learned of the friendly relations between pioneer settlers and the Indian tribes of the region, including the famous Indian Henry, the Indian War of 1855-56, and the Mashell  River Massacre. The group had to step carefully going in and out of the cabin, maneuvering over the new concrete access ramps under construction.

    *From The History of Tacoma Eastern Area by Jeannette Hlavin and Pearl Engel comes the following excerpt concerning the attempt to "poison" town founder Tom Van Eaton: "In 1887 Walter Baker and his family homesteaded on Mensik's Hill about two miles from Eatonville. He served food in his home and offered overnight accommodations to sight-seers to Mount Rainier. His place was called Methi...Indian Henry often supplied deer meat for the meals, charging one dollar for a whole deer...
    "Mr. Baker had an idea of starting a town on the hill, and for some years there was a spirited rivalry between him and T. C. Van Eaton with considerable 'fussin' and feudin.' When word came of the result of the presidential election in 1893, the Bakers invited the Eatonvilleites (or Van Eaton-ites) to their place for celebration in the evening. The Bakers did not display the highest type of hospitality however; they put croton oil in the coffee and many Eatonvilleites were ghastly sick. The Bakers missed their main target however; T. C. Van Eaton did not drink coffee that night."

Another Boy Scout Works to Preserve Cultural History...

                                                                                      (photo by Bob Walter)

     October 24, 2005: Kyle Litzenberger, 12, a seventh grader at Eatonville Middle School,  gave an update on his Eagle Scout project to the membership of the South Pierce County Historical Society at their October meeting Sunday afternoon. Kyle was proposing improvements to the Japanese section of the Eatonville Cemetery, including a ceremonial arch.
    After Stage Stop Museum Director Audrey Roley made contact with one of the Japanese caretakers of that corner of the cemetery, Kyle was able to arrange a November 6th meeting with him at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple, to discuss plans and tasks for his project, and to learn Japanese customs for honoring the dead. 
    The Historical Society is excited by yet another Eagle Scout project dealing with preserving history -  the other two being Zach Ingalls, who made significant improvements to the Shaker Church Indian Cemetery west of town, and Ryan Ames, who took the cemetery project to its next level. 


Historical Society Ready for Cabin Improvements...

                                                                                      (photo by Bob Walter)

     October 17, 2005: Members of the board of directors of the South Pierce County Historical Society, from left, Audrey Roley, Carol Cook, Rosa Hibbard and Joe Sander, stand on the ramp in front of the Van Eaton Cabin at Mill Pond Park, following their October board meeting. The cabin, home of the future Stage Stop Museum, is in the process of being restored. 
    The ramp seen here - obviously becoming a hazard - is to be replaced through a $10,000 HUD block grant awarded two years ago. The Historical Society submitted a design plan to Pierce County Community Services in January 2005,  but the project has been delayed by bureaucratic processes. Board members not pictured include Valerie Burdick, Madora Dawkins and Bob Walter.

Museum Director Frustrated with Bureaucrat...

           12 September 2005               

   Tom Hilyard, Director
     Depart           Department of Community Services
     3602 Pa        Pacific Avenue, Suite 200
      Tacoma, Washington 98418-6813

    Dear Sir,

    My name is Audrey Mills Roley, and I am the Director of the Stage Stop Museum in Eatonville Washington.  The museum is sponsored by the South Pierce County Historical Society. As of October 3, 2003 we received a  $10,000 HUD grant to construct a handicap ramp and steps into the T. C. Van Eaton cabin that we are restoring. The cabin’s ramp and steps will be connected by a cement sidewalk. That’s the grant.
    As of this date there has been little, if any, movement to complete this grant. Mr. Robert Walter, president of the society, and I met with Mr. Dan Schnabel sometime in December of 2003. We were given our marching orders. We were to submit our plan to him as soon as possible. We completed all our tasks by April 2004.
    Hearing nothing from Mr. Dan Schnabel, I started contacting him by phone. The following dates in  2004 indicate the number of times that I phoned and was not responded to - July 20, 28, August 9, 18,  September 14, 16, 27 October 7,8,12. At this time we learned the local office had to redo past errors in their work. I can sympathize with their predicament. 
However we did not contribute to the difficulties. We demonstrated patience and politeness during this time. On February 9, 2005 Mr. Schnabel asked that we attend a meeting to plan on completing the grant. We jumped with joy. I called many times during the spring and summer of 2005 checking on the progress. He was having difficulty finding a contractor to do the job. 
    By August 5, 2005, I found a local contractor who would complete the grant. On September 6, 2005  Mr. Chuck McKasson had contacted Mr. Schnabel requesting the information that he needed to complete the bid. As of September 11, 2005 he has not received a reply from Mr. Schnabel. In less than two weeks it will be two years since this started. I know the wheels of government turn slowly, but can you give me some hint on how we can get the wheels moving. The existing ramp has become rotted and is now hazardous.
    I believe that I have been respectful and polite in dealing with  Mr. Schnabel-frustrated to the “nth.”  Mr Schnabel assured me that we would be able to have our Mother’s Day Tea in 2005. So far we have missed our Christmas tea in 2003( that was to be expected), in 2004 we missed our Mother’s Day and Christmas (that was not expected), and in 2005 Mr. Schnabel assured me that we would not miss our Mother’s Day tea ( you are correct, we missed it). Mr. McKasson and his crew will be hunting the month of October. In all probability we will miss our Christmas tea - again. Now you can guess that little old ladies get very “testy” when they cannot have their teas.
    I left a voice mail message for Mr. Schnabel to contact before 12 today. As of 4 p.m. He has not returned my call.
    I know not what to do - hence this letter. I hope to hear from you shortly. 

    Audrey Mills Roley
    Director of Stage Stop Museum
    South Pierce County Historical Society
    P.O. Box 1966
    Eatonville, Washington  98328

    Bruce Rath, Eatonville Mayor
    Roger Bush, Pierce County Council
    Dave Reichert, Congressman 8th District
    Patty Murray, United States Senator
    Maria Cantwell, United States Senator
    Alphonso Jackson, HUD
    George W. Bush, President of the United States
    Kofi Annan, United Nations

Brief Historical Society Update...

     by Bob Walter, President
     September 3, 2005
     Presented at Historical Society Picnic

High points of the past few months:

     Indian Cemetery restoration through projects of Eagle Scout candidates Zach Ingalls and Ryan Ames

    Fern Hill Community, School and Byrd Mill Road Tie-in with Indian Henry Trail and Cemetery

    Presentation to the Ohop Grange; discussion with Sam Reichel about the Japanese community milk house

    Cabin grant given the go-ahead by Community Services; ramps may be in before the weather changes.

    Met with the Mill Pond Park Committee Aug. 24. Now have a better vision of our future historic village, and recruited five new members!

    Updated our museum plan.

    Met with Town Administrator Gary Armstrong at the park site, to discuss utilities, sidewalks, parking, sculpture location and historic village layout.

   Talked with Charles Matheny about his mill whistle sculpture location and orientation.

   Cabin interior paneling is off the walls, and in the process of being removed.

Historical Society Picnic...

                                                                                                (photo by Bob Walter)

     August 28, 2005: Betty Sander makes a point in a conversation with Chester Tomczak and mayoral candidate Bobbi Allison at the South Pierce County Historical Society potluck picnic, held Sunday, August 28 at the home of Madora Dawkins. A brief meeting followed the meal, during which members reviewed recent progress in preserving local history, including work on the Van Eaton Cabin. 

A Happy Group Enjoyed a Perfect Day

                                                                                                                     (photo by Bob Walter)

     Great food and pleasant company were in ample supply at the home of Madora Dawkins Sunday. From right are Betty Sander, Rosa Hibbard, Chester Tomczak, Joe Sander, Carol Cook and Anne Norman. At the rear is Madora Dawkins. The three zucchini squash were brought to the Historical Society picnic by Evelyn Guske and her daughter, Sharon Aguilar, for "door prizes." 

A Former Mayor and a Mayor Hopeful Visit

                                                                                                    (photo by Bob Walter)

    Sharon Aguilar, mayoral candidate Tom Smallwood, Jacquie Parnell, Bea Elder, former mayor Harold Parnell and Dixie Walter relax on the lawn at the picnic. Smallwood was welcomed as a new member at the Society's potluck meeting. Twenty-one people were in attendance.  

Historical Society Christmas Tea

                                                                                                    (photo by Bob Walter) 

     December 14, 2003

     Just like in days gone by, the Van Eaton cabin at the south end of town was warmed by visitors enjoying hot tea, cookies and “rock cakes” (an English traditional biscuit baked by Anne Norman) at the South Pierce County Historical Society’s annual Christmas Tea Sunday, December 14 afternoon. In the foreground, Valerie Burdick views a book of photos and journal entries made by William Burton Carroll, homesteader on Horn Creek in the late 1800’s, and grandfather to Elizabeth Jane Millner (back to camera). Jane’s husband John sits at left. 
     Carroll kept a diary for 39 years, from 1895 to 1934. Only a four-year section of the diary remains, and the Millner’s have preserved copies, both for family records and for the historical group’s files. Other visitors enjoy tea and conversation near the warmth of the wood stove in background. The Christmas Tea has become an annual event, and next year, visitors can expect to see many improvements in the cabin’s furnishings.

Your Historical Society at Work...

Next Event - Tea at the Van Eaton Cabin

(photo by Bob Walter)     

     December 10, 2003

     “Mrs. Claus,” Audrey Roley, makes another sale with a happy customer at the annual holiday swag and basket fundraiser, conducted at the Plaza Market in Eatonville by the South Pierce County Historical Society. Not pictured, but displayed during the sale is the “fan quilt.” The quilt (see below) was designed and assembled from 1930’s clothes by Carol Cavanaugh of Eatonville, sewn together by the I’d Rather Be Quilting club, and donated to the Society. The Historical Society is raffling the quilt to raise money for museum projects. Tickets are $1 and can also be purchased next Sunday from 1to 4 p.m. at the Society’s Christmas Tea. The drawing for the winner of the quilt will take place at the end of the tea. You need not be present to win. The tea will be held at the Van Eaton Cabin at the corner of Mashell Ave. S. and Alder St.

Fan Quilt Winner to be Drawn at Society Tea

                                                                    (photo by Bob Walter)

For more information about the quilt raffle and society tea please see Society Quilt

     December 4, 2003

     Historical Society Christmas Wreaths     

     Mrs. Claus will be selling handmade Christmas wreaths, swags and baskets at Plaza Market starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, December 6 until everything is sold out! Be there early. The fresh Christmas decorations start to sell even before they are all unloaded. This is a fund raiser for the historical society.

     November 29, 2003
                                             Historical Society $10,000 Grant

Recently the South Pierce County Historical Society was awarded a $10,000 grant to complete the restoration of the T. C. Van Eaton cabin. Past President Pat Hamilton made an outstanding presentation at the sub-committee of HUD. Museum Director Audrey Roley said, "We have Pat to thank for the grant." Adding, "The Society has contracted with John Carney to do the first phase of the project which is now nearly completed. John is considered and expert in cabin restoration. You can see his work while sipping tea at our Sunday, December 14 event.


    Apple Cider Squeeze at Cabin

                                                    (photo by Bob Walter)

     by Bob Walter
    October 4, 2003

     Six-year-old Michaela Wonacott, a first-grader at Eatonville Elementary, is transfixed by the spinning, churning apples she has just dropped into Bill Ide's cider press, during the South Pierce County Historical Society's Apple Squeeze Saturday, September 4, at the Van Eaton Cabin. Michaela's grandmother, society secretary Lois Brown, holds her in position for loading the press. 
     Chester Tomczak, rear, provided the raw material, having made a trip to the Yakima Valley to pick up several boxes of red delicious apples. Ide made the event possible by bringing out his press and spending the day showing novices how to make cider. Some participants brought their own apples, and all paid a donation for the fresh cider they took home. A hand-cranked, spinning drum, made of oak with rows of stainless steel pegs protruding from it, crushes the apples into small bits. The juice is then pressed and strained as it's poured into jugs. 

Preserving the Past...

                                                  (photo by Dixie A. Walter)

    Jackie Parnell literally helps preserve the past by painting a wood stain on the historical society's uncovered, covered wagon August 26. The stain is to protect the antique wood on the old wagon from the elements. She is joined by an unidentified canine buddy who spent most of the afternoon overseeing the project. The wagon is circa 1840 and has been in need of some loving care. Joining Jackie and friend were society members Harold Parnell, Anne Norman and society president Bob Walter. Behind the wagon is the Van Eaton cabin, first home in Eatonville. Jackie's dad, Frank, was born in the cabin. He was the first non-native Anerican child born in town.  

New Curtains for Old Cabin

December 9, 2002      

     Historical Society member Jackie Parnell's nimble fingers made gingham curtains for eight side windows plus the windows on the front and back doors of the Van Eaton cabin. They are the first cabin curtains in the town's collective memory.  Jackie's father, Frank Van Eaton, was the first pioneer infant born in Eatonville. One hundred eight years later Jackie made the curtains which now decorate her late grandmother, Jane Osborne Van Eaton's, former home. Jackie said she used thirty yards of forty-five inch material. Local resident Lana Exley helped with hemming. The curtains perk up the cabin and can be seen when driving past the site. The burner seen through the window is a relic left from the booming days when Eatonville was a mill town. It stands, reminiscent of a tombstone, beside the mill pond. The pond and burner are the sole, lonely  reminders that timber ruled the area for close to a century.  (photo by Dixie A. Walter)

     Another view of the new curtains now adorning the first home in Eatonville. Seamstress Jackie Parnell said making ten sets of curtains took about a week, but not a week of  "solid" sewing. The curtains were hung  last week by her husband Harold, who is also the town's mayor. (photo by Dixie A. Walter)   


Eatonville Growth Trivia 

     In 1889 the Van Eaton cabin was built. "In 1890 there were seven people living in Eatonville. In 1900 there were about 70. In 1910, the federal census gave the place 725. It is evident there was no appreciable growth until the Eatonville Lumber Company began operation in 1907." 
From The History of Tacoma Eastern Area by Jeannette Hlavin and Pearl Engle)


At the Puyallup Fair 2002

                                           (photo by Bob Walter)                                                   (photo by Jackie Parnell)

     The artifacts pictured in the historical society's "fair window" are now on display in Eatonville in the window of  the telephone company building at the intersection of  Mashell Ave. N. and Center St. E. Harold and Jackie Parnell, Betty and Joe Sander (of Alder) along with Madora Dawkins put the display together for the Puyallup Fair this fall.  


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